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Human Resources Advice

Updated on July 1, 2015

Some Advice for Those Starting a Career in Human Resources

Human Resources and its practitioners appears to have an increasing impact on organisations and their staff. Unfortunately this impact is not always beneficial for either and I thought it would be useful if I jetted down some thoughts on the subject. I am writing from the perspective of someone who has been the customer of HR, both as a manager and as someone being managed for over 30 years in the public service in the UK. In particular it is based on what happened at an organisation where I worked for 15 years. It is not the organisation where I ended my career. That organisation seems to have cracked the HR problem.

1) Whether you are good bad or at indifferent at your job you are going to make decisions that impact on peoples hopes, dreams and aspirations. As Yates said “Tread softly for you tread on my dreams” We are not always rational. Realise this and remember we are people, treat us with respect, some of us have numerous professional and academic qualifications and extensive experience, we are not just shelf stackers. Speak to us, listen to us, don’t try to get away with just speaking to managers, you won’t get the information you need. Try to understand us. Forget the pop psychiatry and the one size fits all approach.

2) Remember you are a support function. We know the business, we know our jobs, we know how to lead and manage staff. Don’t interfere in what you don’t understand unless you have to. More importantly we know the qualities that out managers/leaders require. It is easy to try and fit an inappropriate ‘one size fits all’ set of competencies/ person specifications for appointments etc. but it won’t work. Make the effort and do it properly

3) Speak to us in our shared, common language, not HR jargon. We know what leadership, teamwork, diversity mean: the definitions are in the dictionary – if, as usually seems to be the case, you mean something different, use different terms. I don’t speak to you assuming that you understand my professional/technical jargon, why should you not return to compliment?

4) Be open, honest and transparent. Admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your decisions. Don’t hide behind procedures and policies. As someone a lot wiser than me said “Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of fools”. Decide which you want to be

5) Hide your prejudices. We all have prejudices and before you can deal with them you need to admit them. Whilst your organisation will have rules, guidance, procedures etc. , dealing with this issue (probably far too many) these will probably be limited to dealing with “Protected Characteristics”. There is a lot more to countering prejudice than this. If you tell members of staff that “we don’t promote people from professional group X” or “anyone who worked for organisation Y is useless” don’t be surprised if people start walking out the door. Leave your prejudices at home.

6) Remember we are a resource. Sometimes the organisation’s only real resource. If you damaged another resource e.g. the computer network you would expect consequences. Why should it different if you damage the human resources why should things be different?

I know I make things seem difficult but it can be done and I’m sure it can be a rewarding career.

Please get back to me if you want to discuss anything in this

Good Luck


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    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 

      3 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Some very good points here - thanks for sharing! Now and then, I've considered a shift into an HR role. Having dealt with a wide variety of HR personnel in the last decade, many of whom were not as professional as I would have preferred, I can personally appreciate the considerations you've laid out here!


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